Tag Archives: Muslim ban

Mr. AG, Hawaii isn’t just an ‘island in the Pacific’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this on a radio talk show: “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Hmm. An island in the Pacific? Was it, oh, Fiji? Palau? Tahiti?

Oh, no. The “island in the Pacific” is Hawaii, one of the 50 United States of America. Hawaii is governed by the very same federal government as all the rest of the states.

The object of the attorney general’s criticism, though, is a federal judge — a Hawaii native — who ruled against Donald J. Trump’s second travel ban that bars Muslims from several countries from entering the United States. The ruling came from U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, who happens to live in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Sessions blows that dog whistle

Hawaii’s two U.S. senators have reacted strongly to Sessions’ statement, made on talk show host Mark Levin’s program. The Huffington Post reported: “Sen. Mazie Hirono likened his remarks about Watson to ‘dog whistle politics.’” That identifies the kind of coded remarks meant to appeal mainly to certain segments of the population. Republicans and Democrats both have their “bases” that respond instinctively to certain political “dog whistles.”

The Huffington Post also reported: “In a statement later Thursday, Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee that vets and confirms federal judges, called Sessions’ suggestion that Watson is somehow unable to carry out his duties impartially ‘dangerous, ignorant, and prejudiced.’

“’I am frankly dumbfounded that our nation’s top lawyer would attack our independent judiciary,’ she said. ‘But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks against the very tenets of our Constitution and democracy.’”

I feel the need to stipulate once again: Hawaii isn’t some remote outpost. Judge Watson adheres to the same oath that the attorney general himself took when he joined the Justice Department.

These attacks on the “independent judiciary” have to stop.


There goes the ‘revised’ Muslim ban

It’s back to the drawing board, or perhaps to another piece of scratch paper, for Donald J. Trump’s effort to ban Muslims from entering the United States of America.

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson today has issued a restraining order that prohibits the president’s revised travel ban from taking effect.

The judge, based in Hawaii, ruled that Trump’s revised ban is just as discriminatory against people of a certain faith as his first ban. Thus, said the judge, the president is violating the U.S. Constitution.

What’s next? The case is likely to return to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld an earlier ruling by another federal judge that struck down Trump’s initial refugee.

The president had a response, according to National Public Radio: Trump, speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tenn., called the restraining order “unprecedented judicial overreach.” He said, “The law and the Constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration — when he deems — or she, fortunately it will not be Hillary, ‘she’ — when he or she deems it to be in the national interests of our country.”

At least Trump didn’t call Watson a “so-called judge,” which he labeled U.S. District Judge James Robart, who struck down the first refugee ban.

Trump sought to soften the ban by removing Iraq from his list of banned countries. He also removed the word “Muslim” from the new order. That wasn’t good enough, according to Judge Watson, who said the order still singles out Muslims, which he said is discriminatory on its face.

Watson then ticked off a long list of anti-Muslim statements Trump made while campaigning for president and while he has served as president.

Those of us who thought the new order was better than the first one, but who remain opposed to the policy itself, are heartened by the judge’s decision.

I have an idea for the president to consider. Yes, he’s concerned about protecting Americans from international terrorists. I get it and I endorse his concern. But Mr. President, why not just instruct our federal security authorities to be hyper-vigilant at every entry point?

That’ll protect us, too.

Protests too often become annoyances

One aspect of protests deserves a mention here.

It’s the element of disruption they cause to those of us who happen to get caught in the middle of them.

Donald J. Trump’s executive order banning refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries has prompted protests at airports and other transportation terminals around the nation.

I have just returned home from a five-day trip to the Pacific Northwest to wish my beloved uncle a happy 90th birthday.

While I was there the president issued that ridiculous, paranoid order banning refugees. What happened, then, at Portland International Airport? Protesters clogged the place. They carried signs. They yelled at security officials. They made nuisances of themselves!

Other protests broke out all across the country. People marched in the streets.

When I left PDX this morning en route to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, I didn’t encounter any protesters at my point of departure. I thought there might be a horde of ’em at DFW. There weren’t. Good deal.

I got to my next connection to Amarillo and arrived quietly at the terminal.

My point, though, is that protests are fine. We are a country founded by protesters, people who didn’t like taking orders from monarchs. Those good folks then set about to build a government in The New World that guarantees people the right to assemble peaceably to “see redress of grievances” from the government.

It didn’t necessarily suggest they could disrupt the flow of life’s activities for the rest of us who choose to keep our protesting to ourselves.

Just so you know, I detest what the president has done. It’s in-American. For all I know it might even be unconstitutional. I’ll let the legal scholars of the world decide that one.

As for marching at airports, train stations and ship terminals … well, I’ll leave that for others.

Just stay out of my way. Please.

Muslim ban plays straight into the terrorists’ hands

Now he’s done it.

The president of the United States has just ordered a ban on all immigrants this country from certain Muslim-majority countries. His fear is that immigrants from those countries might be terrorists intent on blowing us all up.

Donald J. Trump has just demonstrated — as if anyone really needed an explanation — how little he understands about the very nature of the nation he was elected to lead.


Not only has the order enraged Democrats across the nation, it has split Republicans as well. It has once again cast a serious chaotic spin on the activities associated with the president who’s been in office a week and one day.

Just think, Dear Reader, we’ve got four whole years of this.

U.S. Sen Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, said he understands Trump’s desire to protect us against terrorists but a “blanket ban” on immigrants from Muslim countries demonizes those who practice a certain religion unfairly. The president, Flake said, needs a “clear-eyed view” that doesn’t ascribe “radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims.”

That, however, is what Trump has just done.

Moreover, as Sen. Susan Collins (pictured), a Maine Republican, has noted, such a blanket ban will create problems immediately for the president.

Donald Trump has just ratcheted up the fight that appears to imply that, by golly, we are at war with Islam — a principle rejected categorically by his two immediate predecessors, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack H. Obama.

Shocking! Trump was kidding about locking Hillary up

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - DECEMBER 9: President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he arrives onstage at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump is continuing his victory tour across the country. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump didn’t mean it. He was kidding. He never intended to “lock up” Hillary Rodham Clinton over her use of a personal e-mail server.

Wow! Can you believe it? He said it was a ploy to win votes.

Interesting, yes? I think so.

Now I’m wondering what else the president-elect said just to sway voters to cast their ballots for him.

Does he really intend to build a wall across our southern border? Does he actually intend to ban Muslims from entering the United States of America? The “deportation force” is a joke, too?

Trump has acknowledged already that those hideous things he said about women were for “entertainment” purposes. Gosh, I still haven’t stop laughing. Thanks, Donald, for the hilarity.


This all seems to play into the narrative that developed not long after the election, which is that you can’t take Trump’s statements literally. When he said he knows “more about ISIS than the generals,” we’re supposed to brush it off as — what — just campaign rhetoric? When he called President Obama the “founder of ISIS,” that was meant to draw applause from those yuuuuge rallies?

As for the so-called pledge to toss Hillary Clinton in jail, many of his ardent supporters accepted as the gospel according to Trump. “Lock  her up!” they chanted repeatedly.

Oh, my. We’re going to have to parse the new president’s words with great care … and even greater skepticism.

There goes ‘divided government’


Republicans in Congress used to extol the virtues of “divided government,” when they controlled Capitol Hill while a Democrat and his family were residing down the street in the White House.

Guess what. Divided government is about to be tossed into the crapper. On Jan. 20, a Republican — Donald J. Trump — will take the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States; meanwhile, the GOP will retain control of Congress, although with slightly diminished majorities.

But we’re going to have one party in charge of everything.

Oh, boy!

The last time one party ran the whole show was from 2009 to 2011. Democrats were the big dog. What did they do when they ran the government? Oh, the 111th Congress — along with the president — managed to save the nation from total economic collapse, despite many Republicans’ best efforts to stop them.

Then the GOP took over both congressional chambers and began obstructing just about everything the Democratic president, Barack Obama, sought to do.

What lies in store for the new GOP president and his fellow Republicans who run Congress? That might depend on how well Democrats learned the obstructionist practices of their “friends on the other side of the aisle.”

Trump intends to do a few things that are anathema to Democrats. He wants to repeal environmental protection laws; he wants to toss aside the Affordable Care Act — although he now says he hopes to save the strongest portions of it; he intends to “build a wall” across our southern border; he hopes to ban Muslims from entering the United States of America.

I believe Trump once also said he intends to make department store owners force their employees to wish their customers a “Merry Christmas” during the holidays. Government overreach? Uh, yeah!

In each of these cases, I am all for a little obstruction. I trust Democrats have learned their lessons well from their Republican colleagues.

Calls for Trump to quit race are mounting, but …


The Deseret News of Salt Lake City has joined a growing chorus around the country in demanding that Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, quit his campaign.

The editorial is attached here:


He probably won’t quit, although I hate to predict anything at this point of a growing scandal that only promises to get worse.

My own sense is that Trump is thinking about it, considering at some level to call it quits, to hand this presidential nomination over to VP nominee Mike Pence.

He has vowed to go the distance.

Frankly, I want him to stay in the race. It’s not that I want this man to redeem himself. I believe that politically speaking he is beyond redemption.

Republican Party primary voters very well could have known this kind of news would splatter itself all over the campaign. Yet they punched their ticket next to a man who “tells it like it is,” who eschews “political correctness,” who has promised to “build a wall” to keep out the Mexican “rapists, drug dealers and killers” and who has pledged to ban all Muslims from entering the United States of America.

Oh, the personal stuff? The three marriages and his boasts about all his sexual conquests, the language he uses to describe women? Pfftt! Doesn’t matter, man.

Trump “isn’t a politician,” the mantra goes. Well, actually he became a politician the moment he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his campaign for the presidency.

The media are largely complicit, too, in allowing this man to get to this point. They didn’t call him out immediately for the lies he told about seeing “thousands of Muslims cheering” the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, or for the phony excuses he gives for refusing to release his income tax returns.

The Deseret News has taken a bold step in calling for Trump to quit the race. I get that it dislikes Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, too, and cannot endorse her candidacy.

There will be more of this kind of demand in the days to come before the election.

Let us not kid ourselves, though. The Republican Party’s primary voters have made their choice. It’s Donald J. Trump. They now must swallow what he fed them on his march to their party’s presidential nomination.

Trump now pitches ‘extreme vetting’ of Muslims


Donald J. Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States has morphed into something he calls “extreme vetting.”

Is that any more acceptable?

That depends, I suppose.

If you’re frightened beyond all reason over allowing any Muslims into the country, then the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s apparent change in policy is a “weakening” of his get-tough stance.

On the other hand, if you wonder just how U.S. immigration and customs officials are going to conduct this so-called “extreme vetting” — as I do — then this plan is just another goofy notion that well might change in the next day or two.

Oh, and there’s also that constitutional issue. The First Amendment lists three basic liberties, the first one of which just happens to be the freedom to worship whichever faith you choose.

Trump is going to accept the GOP presidential nomination this week in Cleveland. He’s selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Pence, interestingly, has declared Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric to be antithetical to American values.

Aw, but what the heck? What’s wrong with a few disagreements among political allies? That sounded like Trump’s rationale for selecting someone with whom he has some serious policy disagreements.

Does the “extreme vetting” bring the two GOP candidates closer on this particular difference of opinion? Time will tell, I suppose.

Whether it’s an outright ban or a regimen of “extreme vetting” of people based on their religious faith, the GOP nominee’s precept is built out of fear and panic. It also ignores the reality that federal security forces are intercepting and detaining suspected bad guys every single day.

Trump keeps insisting that we need to be more vigilant, more alert, more resolute in defending ourselves against terrorists.

The 9/11 attacks nearly 15 years ago — Can you believe that? — exposed the nation to the harshest reality imaginable, which is that we were vulnerable to that kind of horror. We were vulnerable to such evil for a long time before it actually happened.

I believe we are a lot less vulnerable to it today, based on the terrible lessons learned from that horrifying event.

What’s more, defending ourselves against a lone-wolf attacker is difficult in the extreme, as Secretary of State John Kerry noted over the weekend.

He made a fascinating point Sunday morning, which is that U.S. national security forces have to be on guard and totally alert every minute of every single day of the year. Meanwhile, a terrorist has to be sharp for just a few minutes in order to conduct a successful strike against us.

“Extreme vetting” or an outright ban of Muslims will not protect us totally and fully against the evil that lurks out there.

Such language, though, does create a catchy political sound bite.

Listen to this man’s sensible argument on fighting terror

kurdish fighters

David Petraeus is a retired U.S. Army general — the four-star variety. He served in combat and commanded troops in the fight against international terrorists.

He served for a time as the nation’s spook in chief, aka the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

He’s written a compelling essay for the Washington Post in which he argues forcefully against those — that would include you, Donald J. Trump — who propose to ban visitors to this country based solely on their religion.

Here’s the crux of what Gen. Petraeus is trying to convey:

“I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that has become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion.

“Some justify these measures as necessary to keep us safe — dismissing any criticism as ‘political correctness.’ Others play down such divisive rhetoric as the excesses of political campaigns here and in Europe, which will fade away after the elections are over…

“As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive: Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable — a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.

“Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The terrorists’ explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations — telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion. When Western politicians propose blanket discrimination against Islam, they bolster the terrorists’ propaganda.”

Take a look at the complete essay:


How about returning sanity — and intelligence — to this issue of protecting ourselves against those who seek to do us harm?



Mayor to Trump: Thanks, but no thanks

Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan made history by becoming the first Muslim ever elected mayor of London.

He’s a distinguished man who apparently doesn’t like other politicians patronizing him.

So, when presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Donald J. Trump offered to grant the mayor-elect an “exception” to a proposed ban on Muslims visiting the United States, Khan offered a terse “no thanks.”

This is precisely the kind of reaction Trump should have gotten in response to his ridiculous — and patently unconstitutional — proposal to ban people from entering the United States on the basis of their religious belief.

Trump issued the call in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. He said he would, if elected president, work to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Why? He said the threat of Islamic terrorism coming to this country is too great.

Trump does not grasp the idiocy of this proclamation.

Mayor-elect Khan has rejected Trump’s offer to exempt him from the ban. He wonders about how other Muslims would react if they want to come to the United States “on holiday.” What if they want to go to Disneyland, Khan asked, but they can’t because “President Trump” says they aren’t welcome here?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows absolute freedom to worship as one believes. It has been interpreted during the past two-plus centuries to mean that no one should be discriminated against because of their religious faith.

Trump has proposed something that utterly flouts one of the basic tenets on which this country was founded.

Sadiq Khan — the duly elected mayor of one of the world’s truly great cities — saw through it immediately.

He understands what it means to be an American more than the individual who is poised to be nominated to run for the presidency of the United States.